Nov 062018
 

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It’s been more than a year since the magazine ceased publishing, a year of losses. It always surprised me how invested I became in the lives and passions of my writers and editors. Okla Elliott died in March 2017. Paul Pines in June 2018. Ann Ireland in August 2018. And just last month, David Helwig. I miss them all, their force of personality, their fierce will to create, and their affection, their decency as human beings. We are diminished by their absence.

In February, my mother Jean died in her own bed, on the farm she loved. Many of you have been kind enough to follow her career here on these pages, Jean reciting Walter Scott, Jean and her chickens, Jean and the farm. She liked that. At her burial, a native woman emerged from the small group of mourners, unannounced, and drummed and sang around the grave. For her memorial event in August, I put together a slide show of Jean’s life. The texts are a mix of my commentary, dates and context, but also diary excerpts, letters and interviews. Above all, it’s a woman’s life. She lived 96 eventful years. She was smart, feisty, energetic, and indomitable. She championed the weak and hurt, believed in chem trails, loved trees so much she would embrace them in the woods. She got along better with women than with men, but she had three sons. She drove me to Toronto as a kid to see Picasso and Van Gogh exhibits. She would always stop at the library in Brantford or Simcoe when she went shopping and bring back a wicker basket full of books. She could be as annoying as hell, God bless her. I miss talking to her.

—dg

The music in the background is the Welsh lullaby Suo Gân. This is the version arranged by John Williams and sung my James Rainbird for the movie Empire of the Sun. You can interrupt the music at any time by clicking the pause button.

Perhaps the best way of viewing the slide show is to click on the first image below so that you go into full screen mode, then click on the arrows to advance the slides at your own pace. To view images of the farm, the chickens, etc. click on “The Farm” button on the left.

  26 Responses to “Jean, A Life”

  1. Thank you for the slide show, Doug. I had no idea your mother had died, and you have my condolences. She was clearly a strong and interesting woman, and you must miss her very much. I can see your resemblance to her in the photographs, especially when she was younger.

  2. I had not heard of her passing. I had the pleasure of being in her company many times over the years and she was always pleasant and full of the interests that make life worth living. Thank you for sharing this heartfelt and moving tribute to her life. I lost my own beloved mother in her 93rd year this past December just after Christmas.

    • John, Thank you. I am sorry to hear about your mother, too. Just after Christmas, you say. And 92. A good old age and a long life. It is something to contemplate, that long through line of a life, the joys and aches, hopes and misses.

      I’ve been seeing a lot of Syd Lea and Robin lately. I’ll mention that you wrote.

      Doug

  3. A very touching and beautiful tribute, Douglas. My sympathies and shared celebration. Your mother and mine were born a few months apart, and their lives were in many ways alike. So you reawakened within me many emotions of remembrance. Such is one of the powers of art.

    • Thank you, Bruce. This is one of the reasons I posted what otherwise is a pretty private thing. I knew there would be people with similar experiences, or able to imagine similar lives, and that they would find something here. It is meant as a piece of art, a memoir of sorts. You got it and I appreciate that.

  4. So moving, so uplifting. Thanks Doug, and my condolences.

  5. Nancy Campbell and I visited your mother during the high school reunion. She was interesting delightful, talked for an hour and left us knowing things we had not know and lasting memories .
    Cathie Mayers Sutcliffe

  6. This was such a lovely memorial, Mr. Glover. I don’t “know” your or your mother, but reading over this amazing collection, had such a wonderful sense of a rich and well-lived life. It made me happy to see that she had the chance to travel out and see the world while she was still hale and hearty. I LOVED the joyous picture of your Mom at the Trevi Fountain.

    Just thought you might enjoy hearing that in 1975, the same year your Mom got to Rome, my high school Latin Club went there, accompanied by our doughty Latin teacher, Mr. “Smith” who promptly disappeared into the cultural pleasures of the opera (Along with his lady friend who taught Latin in Connecticut, and was designated as “Mrs. Smith” for the duration) and other amusements, and basically left us to our own devices to terrorize the poor Romans. We were a noisy, excitable group of brats, and the sound of “SILENCIO!!!” onced roared through the inner terrace of the B& B that was putting up with us. I blush at the memory.

    A couple of the hi-lites:

    * Being chased up the entire Vatican rotunda, pinched by a very fast-moving young Roman man with a 70’s porn-star mustache and bell bottoms.

    * Spending hours each night just hanging about the Spanish Steps or the Trevi Fountain.

    * Falling in love for the first time with a Sicilian-American boy (from the Connecticut group, who we otherwise hated, for no good reason. Just brats, again.).

    * Being stopped at customs with a large sack of tomato seeds meant for my new Sicilian friends grandmother.

    * Being taken to the Hassler Medici restaurant with my mother’s old friend Gerald (who never married, was incredibly near-sighted and had was in love with her his whole life). Gerald happened to be there when I was, escorting a group of Boston Irish Catholics to the Vatican and on an “Italian Gals.” i remember hearing them talking about going to see the Rivah Aaaaaanho in Flawrence. : )

    Went back 30 years later and Rome was virtually the same, but not me.

    I have thought about you a lot this year after your wonderful magazine closed down (with periodic missives) and hope you know what a special gift you have given people who love beautiful writing, film, art, poetry, and everything you do. I wish you the very best, and hope the memories of your mother will comfort you, through loss and renewal.

    Best wishes,

    Maureen M. (“Moe Murph”)

  7. Who knows, we might have been keeping them up at night in their Pensione!

    (Actually, we were there in April, so we missed them by a few months… : )

  8. What a lovely tribute to an amazing woman. I now love Jean with her dogs, quilts, garden, peas, trees, and exuberance for life. (I am a VCFA student and not sure how I ended up here but I couldn’t pull away once I started. And that music!)

  9. Beautiful, beautiful tribute, Doug. Lost my mother – at 91 – in late January, so these photos, so reminiscent of the ones I’ve seen of her, hit home.

    • Thanks, Lee. I am sorry to hear about your mother. Within a month of each other. And at 91 she lived through the same eras. It’d be nice to have a beer again one of these days.

  10. This is just wonderful. We had the pleasure of meeting Jean but the once, yet never got over her grace and patent spunk. See you soon. Syd and Robin

    • Thanks, Syd. She always asked after you and Robin. You got to see her in the farm house where she was in her glory. See you and Robin next Saturday.

  11. Very touching, Doug. Thanks for doing this.

    • Thank you, David. I know your mother died just recently. I was saddened to hear it. We’ll catch up at the residency.

  12. Indeed! Thank you. Blessings and love, Douglas Glover.

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